June 4, 1997
The June 4th BAPE-sponsored public information meeting held in Magog, QC (see La Tribune, 5 Juin) became the latest example of the farcical manner in which TransQuebec & Maritimes Pipelines is conducting its program to "inform" the public about its PNGTS Extension pipeline.
During the meeting, which lasted more than four hours as landowners queued up to demand answers, it once again became clear that while M. Delisle, of Urgell Delisle et Associes, TQM's chief consulting representative, is very adept at giving simplistic slide shows and extolling the positive virtues of the TQM project, he is incapable or unwilling to provide citizens with clear, honest information concerning the true nature of the project.
While Janin engineers present at the meeting joked and laughed among themselves during citizens' presentations, M. Delisle provided incomplete and inadequate responses to questions, saying that he was not an expert in matters of security and the environment. Indeed, on many occasions M. Delisle's only response was to shrug his shoulders.
At all of its public information meetings, including those intended to satisfy NEB and BAPE requirements, as well as in individual consultations, representatives of TQM have concealed the negative environmental, social, and economic effects of the PNGTS Extension project. They have done so indirectly by omission and directly by not responding in a clear and frank manner to questions and concerns posed by affected landowners.
The consistent manner in which TQM has neglected its duty to inform the public suggests that its oversights are not isolated incidents but rather part of a concerted effort to deceive and mislead the public about its project. Their actions represent not only an affront to citizens and landowners, but also a flagrant disregard for National Energy Board directives, the BAPE process, and democratic principles.
As TQM and its multi-billion dollar consortium brush aside the concerns of individuals, ignore the oft-expressed wishes of involved municipalities and the Memphremagog MRC, and neglect the spirit of governmental guidelines, their program rolls on towards a seemingly inevitable conclusion. What can be accomplished by citizen participation in the process in the face of such determined and powerful interests?